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Under floor Radiant Heat
You've just finished your nice hot shower and then you step out onto a cold tile floor!! That issue, among others, is definitely a reason to explore the benefits of under floor radiant heating systems. Under floor heating was first used by the Romans as their main source of heat. The Koreans and Japanese have used this application to warm the stone (Ondol) and heat the floors of their homes since 37 BC. Frank Lloyd Wright (famous architect), was so intrigued by it when he visited the home of a Japanese nobleman that he incorporated it's use in building the Imperial Hotel in Japan in the early 1900's and several structures to follow. “The indescribable comfort of being warmed from below” impressed Wright so much that he decided to invent a radiant floor system using hot water running through pipes. Radiant under floor heat provides comfort underfoot, maximizes energy efficiency and reduces utility costs. That brings us to today's under floor radiant heat options.
Tip of the month: Advantages and types of radiant floor heating.
· Electric radiant floor system (dry system) – comes in the form of cables, mats or rolls, usually goes down at the same time as floor coverings are installed. Thus a good choice for remodeling. With very low installation and start up cost, electric radiant heat can be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, kid's playrooms and can be zoned with their own programmable thermostats for energy savings and efficiency. The basic element in this system is a resistance wire that heats up with a plastic sheath to a sufficient level to heat the surrounding material – generally mortar or thin-set with the floor covering above it. The resistance wire will never get very hot because the goal temperature should be around 80 degrees. This system will require an electrician to wire it into the house. Advantages to the electric system vs. the hot water (hydronic) system is faster installation, less costly to install than the “wet system”, no storage heater required and height build-up is minimal.
· Hydronic radiant floor system (hot water, wet system) – used in new construction or retrofitting; pipes hot water through tiny plastic tubes. The flexible tubes can be installed in a variety of ways: on top of the sub floor in grooved panels or snap in grids; clipped into aluminum strips on the underside of the floor; or embedded in poured concrete. Once the system is in place, then the hardwood or tile flooring is laid over it. Hydronic systems are the most popular and cost effective way to heat an entire house. This system can be heated with various energy sources; including gas, oil, condensing boilers, or solar water heaters. A hot water radiant system cost more to install that other types of heating systems, but once up and running, it can be up to 40% more efficient than forced air heating (convection). Initial cost depends on whether you are starting from scratch (new construction) or retrofitting (remodeling).
Hydronic radiant heat system with PEX plumbing and under floor heating pipes that will be covered by screed, before flooring is laid over them (above). Total hydronic system (below).
Electric Radiant heat system
Radiant heat operates to rules best observed by the sun and just like the sun, it heats up whatever it shines on. As the invisible waves of thermal radiation rise from below, they warm up any objects they strike which radiates the captured heat in turn. Though the air temperature remains relatively constant, you stay comfortable because the surrounding surfaces aren't stealing warmth from your body. Heat loss is minimal because the air itself is not a vehicle for heat. That is why it is ideal for spaces with high ceilings. Radiant heat is not only energy efficient, but cleaner and healthier than traditional systems, by not pushing toxins or allergens through the air and not allowing dust through duct work. When thinking about remodeling your kitchen, bathroom or other rooms in your home, consider the use of radiant heating as a viable way to add comfort and energy efficiency to your new space.
Contact: Louie or Deborah Carter, Grayson Family Homes, 414 Waterlily Way, Summerville, SC 29483, (c)706-347-0424 or (c)706-453-6523.